Xbox One – My First 48 Hours With Microsoft’s Shiny New Console

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I’ve just finished a long gaming session with my brand new XBox One. At my fingertips, I have Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, Lococycle, Assassins Creed 4, Zoo Tycoon and Powerstar Golf. I’ve spent time in only 3 of those titles but it’s logged in roughly 20 hours of my life in the past 36.

I have to say…It’s a great system but it’s not without it’s faults. I found some glaring holes but am confident that these issues will be addressed in due time. Hopefully sooner than later. Here are my impressions.

Kinect  – I’m going to really love voice command. I actually caught myself starting to issue a command to the TV in my bedroom. I’m also digging the voice commands that I’ve had the opportunity to express in Ryse and Dead Rising 3. As long as developers don’t just shoehorn these functions into their games for the sake of having them, I think that with the newly advanced Kinect, we’re going to see some awesome implementations. The camera has incredible picture and the microphone is outstanding. I haven’t yet had the chance to play anything that’s 100% reliant on Kinect, but I’m looking forward to it.

The New Dashboard – It’s different…That’s not to say it’s terrible but, it’s not incredible. It could be though. I find that I’m stumbling around looking for things in this OS. They’ve streamlined so much that the pieces of the OS that I like to access or use religiously on Xbox 360, feel cumbersome on the Xbox One.

Mandatory Installs – I’m no fan…In fact, mandatory installs suck…there…I said it. It’s one of those things I rarely if ever did on the 360 especially if it’s a new game that I’m chomping at the bit to play. I want to put the disc in the drive and play the goddamn game. I don’t want to wait for 10+ minutes for it to install enough of a game before I can play it. I Know 10 minutes sounds like a short time but as any gamer will tell you, when it comes to a highly anticipated title, 10 minutes seems like a lifetime. When I put Ryse into my system yesterday, I was immediately greeted with a need for a 1.2GB update (someone told me that Forza was 6GB – HOLY CRAP!). How wonderful. My crappy rural wireless internet is so consistently inconsistent, that the update took the better part of 2 hours.

The New Controller -while it’s not as radical a change this time around as it was from the original Xbox to the 360, the differences are noteworthy. The D-Pad received a much requested change, the size is a shade smaller, the triggers have vibration, the shoulder buttons have been slightly modified and the battery pack is smaller. At first I was concerned about the size change but all in all, I love the new controller.

Game/Party Chat – Party chats have undergone some changes and not necessarily for the better. One glaring omission is the inability to engage in voice chat with people who are still playing on the 360. I recall them stating this would be the case some time ago but somewhere deep down I was hoping they wold have made it work somehow. The system does give you the option to invite them to a party(but the invitation doesn’t actually make it to them) so that leads me to think that perhaps they’re working on a solution. I can’t be the only person out there who would like to stay in contact with their 360 friends who aren’t jumping in right away.

The New Audio codec used  by Xbox One chat is noticeably leaps and bounds better than the 360. Another note about chat/party chat, to invite people to party chat, you open your friends list and click on either one person or multiple if you like then you hit the send invite button. I like that but what I don’t like is having to physically turn chat on. I invited these people to a chat..obviously I want to chat with them so why make me activate the chat? Pretty silly if you ask me.

The Hardware – I love the look and feel of my new Xbox. It’s actually not as large or heavy as I had expected.  The system as a whole is whisper quiet. If I had one major complaint to make about the hardware as a whole, it’s the power brick. It’s big, bulky and extremely difficult to hide.

Xbox Live – I’m not sure if this is an issue with my ISP, Xbox Live or by design of how gaming is handled but I’ve noticed some quirky behavior. For example, when playing Dead Rising, sometimes the game will allow me to invite a friend into the game, and other times it doesn’t. After one particular case, my friend invited me to join his game but I never received the invitation and then 10 minutes later while in the middle of a boss battle, I was magically whisked away and thrust into his game without so much as a notification or an acceptance on the invitation by me.

Another time while playing Ryse, the same friend and I were chatting in a party and I set up a game for some multiplayer – the game immediately told me it found my friend to play with but, he doesn’t even have the game so I was stuck at a menu with my friends name in the other slot. It wasn’t until I left the party and then set up a new matchmaking session that it worked. Another noticeable omission is the notifications that friends have come online.

I love the snap feature but I have to say that it feels a little cumbersome. WHen I say “Xbox Snap TV” it loads the TV app but then the active window becomes the Snapped window. To get back to my game, i have to hit the xbox guide button then move my cursor over to the left to the game window. The screen also felt a little constrained and small. I’m not sure if there’s a limitation with making the screen larger or adjusting he size but it felt needlessly small on my 92″ projector screen when watching hockey yesterday. I can only imagine how it looks on a smaller normal sized screen.

All in all I’m very much enjoying my time with the new system and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store but there is definitely room for improvement.

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